There's a mobile device for every age group. New findings from media research firm Affinity suggest the growing range of connected gadgets entering the mainstream are attracting distinct audiences. The way it breaks down: E-readers are for baby boomers, PC tablets for Gen Xers, and smartphones for millennials.
Affinity's American Magazine Study, surveying more than 60,000 consumers annually across print and digital channels, found that 12% of U.S. adults overall currently own an e-reader. That mirrors recent data on e-reader adoption recently released by the Pew Research Center. In terms of gender, the profile of e-reader owners skews female (54%) versus male (46%).
Some 8.2 million of the 58.6 million boomers have e-readers, making them 19% more likely to have a Kindle, Nook or similar device than the average consumer, according to Affinity. What's more, 10 million plan to buy an e-reader in the next six months. More than 9 out of 10 boomers (92%) use the device at home, 13% at work, and 36% power up their e-readers on the go. Affinity defines boomers as those about 50 to 64 years of age.
Tablets, meanwhile, are the domain of Gen Xers, those who are roughly between 30 and 49 years of age. They're 16% more likely to buy the devices than average. More than 9% of Gen Xers currently own a tablet PC, while 24% -- or almost 21 million -- plan to purchase one. Overall, 8% of U.S. consumers own tablets. Unlike e-reader users, men are more likely to be tablet owners than women, 52% to 48%.
Among Gen Xers, those with household incomes of $100,000 or more are 63% more likely to buy a tablet than their generational peers. But more than half (56%) say they actively share their devices with others, according to the study.
Millennials are the most likely to be carrying a smartphone. The under-30 crowd, also known as "echo boomers," are 28% more likely to own a smartphone than average. More than half (54%) of the 25 million millennials have a high-end phone and 18% plan to buy one in the next six months. Just to be clear, there may be more boomers who own smartphones than millennials, but the propensity of millennials to have smartphones is higher than other groups compared to the general population.
Other data points:
-63% of millennials use their smartphones at work, while 95% report they are the sole users of the
-Millennials who have graduated college are 23% more likely to own a smartphone than others in their category.
Tom Robinson, managing director at Affinity, said he was struck by the expected adoption rates for devices. "What was a bit surprising was the extent to which consumers report that they are planning to purchase each of the different devices, especially tablet PCs, which is a testament to how quickly these digital platforms are being adopted in the marketplace," he said.
The Pew study in June found that e-readers have been growing faster than tablets this year. The number of U.S. adults owning an e-reader has doubled from 6% to 12% between November 2010 and May 2011, while tablet penetration during that period increased only from 5% to 8%. Still, IDC earlier this month raised its forecast for tablet computer sales by 6% to 53 million units on the strength of demand for the iPad and competing Android-based devices.